The Second Commandment proscribes respect for the Lord’s name. Like the First Commandment it belongs to the virtue of faith, and it does so by showing the importance of governing our speech, especially in matters concerning God’s name.

There is no greater name than that of the revealed name of God. God confided his name to Moses on Mt. Sinai, revealing himself in the most intimate of ways. Our name is who we are. When we give our name, or when another gives us their name, it is a gift of trust and intimacy. This is all the more true when it concerns God’s name. The Lord’s name is holy, therefore, it must not be misused. Rather it must be kept in our minds and hearts as a matter of our love and adoration for God. We are to reverence this name and use it only to bless, to praise, and to glorify the One to whom it belongs. This is a matter of respect and it honors the mystery of God and his sacred reality. His name is sacred.

How many times have we been guilty of taking God’s name in vain? We hear people doing it all the time, in anger, in jest, or more and more often these days with a tone of sneering sarcasm. This most sacred of names is used as “dialogue” in movies and on T.V. shows, both dramas and comedies. It is always used for affect, to get a sardonic laugh, or to emphasize an angry moment. It has become a frivolous throwaway bit of utilitarian vocabulary. Social media is full of the crass misuse of the sacred name of God. This abuse of God’s holy name is ubiquitous in our society.

How many times have we ourselves blasphemed, using God’s name in a moment of pique? Or used the name of Jesus for some humorous effect when with others. Have we found ourselves using the Lord’s name in vain in the company of others so that they will think that we are one of them? Have we said things like, “I swear to…” using his name for emphasis, maybe to cover a lie? Indeed, has this kind of use of God’s name become a matter of habit in our own speech? In learning to honor God’s name in our thoughts and in our speech we become more able to respect the names and reputations of others too, so that we do not dishonor their names in any way. It is a discipline of trust, honor, and more importantly, of worship to use God’s name only with the utter respect and sacredness it is due.

Lord, give us the graces we need to develop self-discipline of our minds and our tongues. Help us to deepen and to honor our love for you through this discipline of the tongue so that our words will always be righteous, and so that others will hear only the respect and honor you are due when we speak. We pray in Jesus’ name. Amen!

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